Tad Everett is changing lives one task at a time.
Sterling's school superintendent is a man in motion on Monday. He's joining about a dozen volunteers to package school supplies. It's quite a production line.
"It's vital," he said. "It allows us an opportunity to come together and support one another."
Service groups and businesses are teaming up for some 4,300 Whiteside County students. It says a lot about a challenged community, but it reveals even more about a community that responds.
"Anything we can do for the kids is great," said Becky Haas, Sterling's director of curriculum instruction. "It's just awesome."
More than notebooks and crayons, these donations represent hope. It's hope for youngsters as they go back to school. Families will be able to pick up supplies when they register for classes in coming weeks.
More Whiteside County families need help these days. Some districts will supply three-quarters of its students, free of charge. This effort is busier than ever and even more rewarding.
"They all come together," said Nathan Fellows, United Way of Whiteside County. "Give what they can. Give their time. Give their money. Give donations to help make this a success."
Whiteside County volunteers will be pitching in to bag supplies all week. It sends a positive message to families when they need help the most.
"When they come into our schools, we want them to be prepared," Everett said. "This helps them do that."
For Superintendent Tad Everett, changing lives one sack at a time.